Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Figure 1: USS Toledo (CA-133) off the east coast of Korea while operating with Task Force 77. Photograph was taken by an aircraft from USS Essex (CV-9). Original photograph is dated 6 September 1951. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Toledo (CA-133) underway in Korean waters, with a battleship and a destroyer in the right distance. The original photo is dated 2 November 1952. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Toledo (CA-133) crewmen bring eight-inch powder charges aboard from a barge alongside at Sasebo, Japan, circa July-October 1950, while Toledo was engaged in Korean War combat operations. This photo was received by the Naval Photographic Center on 12 October 1950. Note ship's after eight-inch triple gun turret trained on the starboard beam, and aircraft crane and hangar hatch cover at the stern. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: Eight-inch shells and powder charges on a barge alongside the starboard quarter of USS Toledo (CA-133), as Toledo replenished her ammunition supply in Sasebo Harbor, Japan, after combat operations off Korea, circa July-October 1950. Crewmen are carrying the powder cans into position to be hoisted aboard the cruiser. This photo was received by the Naval Photographic Center on 12 October 1950. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: Crew of one of the Toledo's 40-mm quad gun mounts stands ready during the Inchon Invasion, circa 15 September 1950. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: Three hospital corpsmen relax on board USS Toledo (CA-113) during a lull in the Inchon invasion action, circa 15 September 1950. These men are (from left to right): Bob Hays, Jack R. Allen and Stephen J. Lazorchak. Note the life vests, white helmet with a red cross, and red cross armbands. Official US Navy Photograph, from the "All Hands" collection at the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: Inchon operation, September 1950. A Chaplain reads the Last Rites service as Lieutenant (Junior Grade) David H. Swenson is buried at sea from USS Toledo (CA-133) off Inchon, Korea. He had been killed by a near miss from North Korean artillery while his ship, USS Lyman K. Swenson (DD-729) was bombarding enemy positions on Wolmi Do Island, Inchon, on 13 September 1950. Lt. (JG) David H. Swenson was the nephew of Captain Lyman K. Swenson, who was killed in action while commanding USS Juneau (CL-52) off Guadalcanal during World War II and was the namesake of the ship he was sailing on. Lyman K. Swenson is in the background, with her crew at quarters on deck. Official US Navy Photograph, from the "All Hands" collection at the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: USS Toledo (CA-133) and USS Juneau (CLAA-119) moored at Naval Operating Base, Yokosuka, Japan, following Korean War operations. Photographed during July-October 1950, possibly in late October, just before Toledo departed Yokosuka to return to the United States for an overhaul. Note the comparative sizes of these two cruisers. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 9: Shore fire control party from USS Toledo (CA-133) moves up past Korean tombs to man an observation post overlooking the Han River, circa late April or May 1951. Their mission is to spot and correct the cruiser's gunfire should the enemy appear. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 10: Shore fire control party from USS Toledo (CA-133) in an observation post overlooking the Han River, Korea, circa late April or May 1951. They are ready to spot and correct the cruiser's gunfire should the enemy appear. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 11: USS Toledo (CA-133) at rest in Wonsan Harbor, Korea, at dawn on 26 September 1951, following a long night of firing on enemy targets. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 12: USS Toledo’s shells hit enemy installations in the Wonsan Harbor area, Korea, during a bombardment in early 1953. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after a city in Ohio, USS Toledo was a 13,600-ton Baltimore class cruiser that was built by the New York Shipbuilding Corporation at Camden, New Jersey, and was commissioned at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 27 October 1946. The ship was approximately 674 feet long and 70 feet wide, had a top speed of 33 knots, and had a crew of 1,142 officers and men. Toledo was armed with nine 8-inch guns, 12 5-inch guns, 40 40-mm guns, and 28 20-mm guns.
After a shakedown cruise in the West Indies, Toledo left for Europe on 14 April 1947. After steaming across the Atlantic, Toledo crossed the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, and the Indian Ocean, and arrived at Yokosuka, Japan, on 15 June. Toledo’s primary mission was to support the American occupation forces in Japan and Korea and she visited ports in both of those countries until 21 October, when she returned to the United States. After making a stop at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Toledo arrived at Long Beach, California, on 5 November.
Toledo made two more peacetime deployments to the western Pacific before the start of the Korean War. Toledo returned to Long Beach from the last of those deployments on 12 June 1950. On the morning of 25 June 1950, communist forces from North Korea poured over the 38th parallel and attacked South Korea. Ten days later, Toledo left Long Beach and headed west. After making a brief stop at Pearl Harbor, the ship continued her journey and arrived at Sasebo, Japan, on 18 July. Once there, Toledo became the flagship of Rear Admiral J. M. Higgins, Commander of Cruiser Division Five. On 26 July, Toledo was off the east coast of Korea, several miles north of Pohang, near Yongdok. Toledo joined Destroyer Division 91 and together they formed one of the two alternating east coast support elements of Task Group (TG) 95.5. From 27 to 30 July, Toledo and the destroyers Mansfield (DD-728) and Collett (DD-730) bombarded North Korean lines of communications which started at Yongdok and continued into the mountains and all the way to the 38th Parallel. On 4 August, the Task Group was assisted by Air Force fighters in a combined air-sea bombardment of an enemy-held village near Yongdok. The next day, Toledo’s 8-inch guns continued supporting front-line troops with a heavy bombardment. The ship then moved 70 miles north of Samchok and shelled a number of targets along a 25-mile section of coastline. During this action, Toledo’s guns demolished a bridge, destroyed major sections of highway, and disrupted communist supply lines. On 6 August, Toledo was relieved by USS Helena (CA-75) and returned to Sasebo for some minor repairs.
Toledo returned to Korea on 15 August and joined the cruiser USS Rochester (CA-124) and the destroyers Mansfield, Collett, and Lyman K. Swenson (DD-729) in bombarding a 40-mile section of coastline from Songjin to Iwon. After several bombardment missions, Toledo returned to Sasebo on 26 August and stayed there until 31 August.
But Toledo’s biggest mission was yet to come. In mid-September of 1950, the major amphibious landing at Inchon took place. There was a heavily armed island inside Inchon harbor called Wolmi Do and its guns threatened the success of the landings. Toledo, along with her previous escorts, and the destroyers USS Gurke (DD-783) and USS De Haven (DD-727), were joined by the Royal Navy cruisers HMS Jamaica and HMS Kenya. All these ships entered Inchon harbor on 13 September 1950, with the destroyers leading the way through heavily mined waters. Soon, an artillery duel began between the warships and the gun emplacements on the island. The cruisers let the destroyers draw fire from shore so that they could return fire after seeing the flashes from the enemy’s guns. The cruisers pounded the island mercilessly for the entire day. By nightfall, all of the ships retired, but they returned the next day to finish the job. Then, after two days of pounding both the island and the coastline, US Marines landed on Wolmi Do and then on the coast of Inchon. The Marines on shore called for additional fire-support missions from Toledo and the cruiser’s guns responded with deadly accuracy. She destroyed three gun emplacements, several machine gun nests, and two tunnels, and flattened enemy trenches and mortar positions. Soon, though, the Marines pushed further inland beyond the range of Toledo’s 8-inch guns. The cruiser then shifted her attention to supporting American troops that were battling bypassed pockets of enemy resistance along the coast. By 5 October, Toledo’s mission was completed and she returned to Sasebo.
On 18 October, Toledo also participated in the amphibious assault on Wonsan. For three days, her guns supported the Marines during their advance inland from Wonsan. But on 22 October, Toledo headed back to the United States and, after making stops at Sasebo, Yokosuka, and Pearl Harbor, the ship arrived at Long Beach on 8 November. Toledo ended her journey at San Francisco, California, where she entered the Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard for a badly needed overhaul.
On 2 April 1951, Toledo returned to Korea. After making stops at Pearl Harbor and Sasebo, Toledo began her second tour of duty off the coast of Korea on 26 April. Toledo’s expert gunfire was badly needed by the United Nations troops on shore who were trying to beat back the communist’s spring offensive of 1951. Toledo bombarded enemy positions along the east coast of Korea until late November 1951. On one occasion, communist shore batteries opened fire on the cruiser and the enemy shells came extremely close to actually hitting her. On 24 November, Toledo returned to the United States and on 8 December she arrived at Long Beach for yet another overhaul.
On 16 August 1952, Toledo left Long Beach to begin her third combat tour of duty off the Korean coastline. Towards the end of September, Toledo was providing gunfire support for United Nations troops along Korea’s east coast, especially in the Wonsan area. Even though peace talks were dragging on with the Chinese and the North Koreans, the fighting continued. On 12 October, an enemy 75-mm shore battery actually straddled the cruiser with eight rounds before Toledo responded with 48 rounds from her 5-inch guns, silencing the enemy. On 14 October, another gun opened fire on Toledo from the same area and scored three very near misses on the cruiser. But the war was beginning to wind down for Toledo. After a few more weeks of shore bombardment missions, the cruiser returned to the United States on 28 February 1953. Toledo arrived at her home port at Long Beach on St. Patrick’s Day, 1953. The war in Korea finally ended on 27 July 1953 while Toledo was undergoing repairs at San Francisco.
After the Korean War ended, Toledo deployed to the Far East six more times through November 1959, steaming mostly off the coasts of Korea and Japan. One important exception from this peacetime duty came in January 1955. Toledo was part of Task Force 77 and this unit steamed into the waters between Taiwan and mainland communist China to support the evacuation of Chinese Nationalist troops from the Tachen Islands. Toledo remained 1,500 yards off shore and was assigned to provide covering fire, if necessary, for the amphibious ships that were engaged in the actual evacuation. The operation was successfully completed and Toledo returned to her normal patrol duties.
On 5 January 1960, Toledo entered the Long Beach Naval Shipyard to begin her inactivation overhaul. The ship was decommissioned at Long Beach on 21 May 1960. She was eventually moved to San Diego, California, where she remained in reserve for the next 14 years. On 30 October 1974, USS Toledo was sold for scrapping. She received five battle stars for her service during the Korean War and proved how effective naval-based gunfire could be to a land campaign.
Posted by Remo at 9:07 AM
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Figure 1: USS Oahu (PR-6) circa 1930, location unknown. From the collection of Ernest Arroyo. Courtesy Jim Flynn. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: Tobacco card issued by John Player and Sons in Great Britain in 1939 showing a painting of USS Oahu (PR-6). This painting was part of a series entitled "Modern Naval Craft” and shows Oahu steaming on the Yangtze River. Courtesy Tommy Trampp. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: This photograph shows the back of tobacco card issued by John Player and Sons in 1939 and it gives a brief description of Oahu. Courtesy Tommy Trampp. Click on photograph for larger image.
USS Oahu (PR-6) was one of six American gunboats built by the Kiangnan Dockyard and Engineering Works in Shanghai, China. Commissioned on 22 October 1928, Oahu was part of the US Asiatic Fleet and was built specifically for patrolling China’s Yangtze River. American ships that were assigned to the Yangtze were part of the famous “Yangtze Patrol,” which existed for almost 90 years. The 450-ton Oahu was approximately 191 feet long, had a beam of 28 feet, but only had a draft of 5 feet, 3 inches, making her ideal for steaming in some of the shallower waters of the Yangtze. She was armed with two 3-inch guns and eight .30-caliber machine guns, and had a top speed of 15 knots. Oahu also had a complement of 55 officers and men.
Oahu left Shanghai on her shakedown cruise on 3 November 1928. She steamed up the Yangtze to Chungking, almost 1,300 miles inland from Shanghai. Oahu made numerous stops at open treaty ports along the Yangtze and returned to Shanghai on 2 June 1929. She continued patrolling the Yangtze between Shanghai and Chungking well into the 1930s, protecting American lives and property and “showing the flag” in even some of the smallest tributaries of the river. While serving on the Yangtze Patrol, Oahu escorted American and foreign merchant ships and barges, supplied armed guards for American and British vessels on the river, landed armed sailors (or bluejackets) at treaty ports that were threatened by political turmoil, and, when necessary, evacuated American and foreign nationals in times of civil unrest.
From 1934 to 1937, Oahu became the station ship at various ports along the Yangtze. She served in this capacity at Ichang, Chungking, Hankow, Wuhu, and Nanking. Escorting ships on the river and providing naval armed guard detachments for merchant vessels became standard practice during this period. Chinese warlords and bandits were a terrible problem throughout China and the foreign gunboats provided some measure of security for American and foreign merchant ships that were trading on the Yangtze. But when Japan invaded China in July 1937 starting the Second Sino-Japanese War, the political and military situation in China began deteriorating rapidly. Japanese forces made rapid advances in China, endangering neutral warships and nationals that were caught in the crossfire. The gunboat USS Panay, sister ship to Oahu, was attacked and sunk by Japanese aircraft on 12 December 1937, an event that almost brought the United States into a war with Japan four years prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Oahu raced to the scene where Panay was sunk, rescued the American survivors, and brought them to Shanghai.
As Japan made even greater advances inside China, Oahu was only allowed to patrol on the lower part of the Yangtze as far as Wuhu and Hankow. She also served as the station ship and as the radio relay vessel for American diplomats at the temporary US embassy at Nanking. Whenever Oahu ventured on the Yangtze on a regular patrol, she was escorted by a Japanese warship ordered to monitor her movements and protect her from Japanese aircraft. The Japanese were keeping a close eye on all of the foreign gunboats in the area as Japan and the western powers drifted closer and closer to war.
By 1941, the five remaining American river gunboats in China were assigned to Rear Admiral William A. Glassford, Commander of the Yangtze Patrol, whose headquarters was in Hankow. In late November 1941, Glassford was ordered to take three of the largest gunboats and try to steam to Manila in the Philippines. The two smallest gunboats, USS Wake and USS Tutuila, were thought to be incapable of making the trip to the Philippines. The gunboat USS Mindanao, which was based in Hong Kong, had to make the trip on her own. USS Luzon and Oahu left Shanghai shortly after midnight on 29 November 1941, with Rear Admiral Glassford and his staff on board Luzon. All of these river gunboats were flat-bottomed ships with no keels and they were never meant to sail on the open seas. One major wave could have tossed the little ships around like pieces of wood and few people back in Manila thought they would complete the journey alive. In fact, Admiral Thomas Hart, Commander-in-Chief of the US Asiatic Fleet back in Manila, was feeling so bad about the plight of the little gunboats that he sent the minesweeper USS Finch and the submarine rescue vessel USS Pigeon to escort the two gunboats just in case they went down in heavy seas.
The two gunboats headed south in the China Sea at a slow 10.5 knots. Unfortunately, as the ships steamed south through the Formosa Strait, they ran head-on into a typhoon. Heavy rain, huge waves, and horrific winds pounded the little ships. For four incredible days, Oahu and Luzon endured the storm. But in an amazing act of seamanship, Admiral Glassford and his officers somehow managed to keep the ships afloat. Glassford said in his report that, “For nearly 48 hours there was experienced the hardest beatings of our lives at sea. There was no sleep, no hot food, and one could scarcely even sit down without being tossed about by the relentless rapidity of the lunging jerks. The very worst of all the trip was after clearing Formosa, with a quartering sea. I recall just after dawn on the 4th of December, while clinging to the weather rail of the bridge deck, that our situation could not possibly be worse and wondering just how much longer we could stand it. Not the ships, which had proven their worth, but ourselves.”
But by dawn on 5 December 1941, there suddenly appeared a cloudless sky and a calm sea. The ships had been battered beyond belief and the men were exhausted, but they were still alive and had made it through the storm. A few hours later all of the ships arrived at Manila. After they arrived, Rear Admiral Glassford hauled down his flag on board Luzon and stated, “ComYangPat dissolved,” announcing the end of the famous Yangtze Patrol which had been formally established 22 years earlier and almost 90 years since the first American gunboat made its way up the Yangtze River. It was the end of an era in US Naval history.
Once the war began on 7 December 1941, Oahu completed several patrols next to the minefield channels protecting the island fortress of Corregidor just off the Bataan peninsula. But she spent most of her time in Manila Bay, trying to stop Japanese troops from infiltrating behind the lines by sea at night. Because of a desperate lack of fuel, these patrols ended on 27 December. Japanese aircraft heavily bombed Corregidor on 29 December, nearly sinking Oahu which was anchored nearby. But the end was near and, without any reinforcements coming from the United States, the Philippines could not stand. On 9 April 1942, Bataan fell, leaving only the island fortress of Corregidor in American hands. With no fuel or ammunition left for her guns, the crew on board Oahu was ordered to leave the ship and man several 155-mm. howitzers on Corregidor. Now defenseless, Oahu was a clear target for the oncoming Japanese. On 6 May 1942, the day Corregidor finally fell to the Japanese, Oahu was pounded mercilessly by enemy heavy artillery. After nearly being blown to pieces, the tough little gunboat sank. Though small in stature, USS Oahu proved to be a difficult ship to sink. Unfortunately, her luck ran out near the beaches of Corregidor.
Posted by Remo at 8:37 AM
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Figure 1: USS Randolph (CV-15) in the Chesapeake Bay area during her shakedown period, 12 November 1944. She is wearing camouflage Measure 32 Design 17a. Photographed from USS Charger (CVE-30). Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Randolph (CV-15) alongside a repair ship at Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands, 13 March 1945, showing damage to her after flight deck resulting from a "kamikaze" suicide plane hit on 11 March. Photographed from a USS Miami (CL-89) floatplane. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Randolph (CV-15) crewmen fighting fires on the ship's flight deck after she was hit by a "kamikaze" suicide plane, 11 March 1945. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: Damage done to the flight deck of USS Randolph (CV-15) after hit by a “kamikaze” suicide plane on 11 March 1945. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: Another view of the damage done to the flight deck of USS Randolph (CV-15) after hit by a “kamikaze” suicide plane on 11 March 1945. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Randolph (CV-15) at anchor in the western Pacific, June 1945. Photographed by Lieutenant Barrett Gallagher. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: Commander of Task Force 58 Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher, left, with his Chief of Staff, Commodore Arleigh A. Burke, on board USS Randolph (C V-15) during operations off Okinawa. Photograph is dated June 1945, but was probably taken in May. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: Official US Navy photograph of USS Randolph (now CVA-15) after her SCB-27A modernization, with an interesting mix of F9F Cougars, AD Skyraiders and F4U Corsairs on deck. This photograph was probably taken during her post-modernization shakedown cruise to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, August to November 1953, with Carrier Air Group 10 (CAG-10) aboard. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 9: Official US Navy photograph of USS Randolph (now CVA-15) after her SCB-27A modernization, with an interesting mix of F9F Cougars, AD Skyraiders and F4U Corsairs on deck. This photograph was probably taken during her post-modernization shakedown cruise to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, August to November 1953, with Carrier Air Group 10 (CAG-10) aboard. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 10: USS Randolph (CVA-15) at Gibraltar, mid-February 1954. Randolph was relieving USS Bennington (CVA-20) after her Mediterranean cruise was completed. Photograph courtesy of Louis Hodgson. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 11: USS Randolph underway circa 1956-57. Photograph courtesy Don Smith (USN-RET). Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 12: USS Randolph (CVA-15) stands at her assigned anchorage in Hampton Roads, Virginia, during the International Naval Review, 12 June 1957. Note her deck load of aircraft, with two AJ Savage attack planes and 14 FJ Fury fighters parked on the flight deck, forward. Photographed by PH2 Hughes. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 13: USS Randolph (now CVS-15) refueling at sea from USS Pawcatuck (AO-108), circa 1960. USS Waller (DDE-466) is refueling from the oiler's starboard side, while USS Eaton is steaming astern, waiting her turn for a "drink." Photograph received from USS Waller, 1969. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 14: Official US Navy photograph of USS Randolph (CVS-15) during an UNREP (UNderway REPlenishment) in the Atlantic, somewhere along the East coast, while conducting ASW (anti-submarine warfare) operations, September 1960. She is replenishing from USS Marias (AO-57) along with USS Cony (DDE-508). Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 15: USS Randolph (CVS-15) underway at sea on 27 February 1962, with two S2F airplanes on her catapults. Official US Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 16: Official US Navy photograph of USS Randolph (CVS-15) in September 1968. However, this photograph was possibly taken during the summer of 1967, since it shows Anti-Submarine Carrier Air Group 56 (tail code "AU") aboard Randolph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 17: Sir Winston Churchill salutes as he receives honors during a visit to USS Randolph (CVA-15), 26 October 1958. Photographed by J.C. Ricks. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after Peyton Randolph, the first president of the First Continental Congress, USS Randolph (CV-15) was a 36,380-ton, Ticonderoga class aircraft carrier that was built by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company at Newport News, Virginia, and was commissioned on 9 October 1944. The ship was approximately 888 feet long and 93 feet wide, had a top speed of 32 knots, and had a crew of 3,448 officers and men. Randolph was heavily armed with 12 5-inch guns, 68 40-mm guns, and 59 20-mm guns. The carrier also carried roughly 80 aircraft, depending on the mission.
After a shakedown cruise in the Caribbean, Randolph went to the Pacific via the Panama Canal and on 31 December 1944 arrived at San Francisco, California. After taking on two air groups, Randolph left San Francisco on 20 January 1945 and steamed to Ulithi atoll in the Caroline Islands in the western Pacific Ocean. Once there, she joined Task Force 58 and on 16 February her aircraft began offensive bombing operations against the Japanese home islands. Randolph’s aircraft also supported American troops during the invasion of Iwo Jima, bombing enemy targets on land and shooting down Japanese suicide aircraft, or “kamikazes,” that were being launched against the American invasion fleet. On 25 February, after numerous bombing runs were made against Iwo Jima, Randolph returned to Ulithi for provisions.
But on 11 March 1945, while Randolph was at anchor at Ulithi, a Japanese suicide aircraft suddenly appeared over the island. It was a twin-engine bomber and it immediately dove towards Randolph. There was almost no time to react and the plane crashed through the starboard side of the rear flight deck and exploded inside the ship. The explosion and fire killed 25 men and wounded 106. But the crew scrambled into action and quickly put out the fire before it could do even more damage to the ship. The Navy decided to repair the carrier at Ulithi and, by 7 April, Randolph was able to join the invasion task force headed for Okinawa. Randolph’s planes not only hit targets on Okinawa, but they also provided critical combat air patrols that assisted in the protection of the invasion force against the dreaded Japanese kamikazes. Randolph itself was also under daily enemy air attacks from 17 April on, but the ship was not damaged. On 15 May, Randolph became flagship of Task Force 58 and continued supporting the occupation of Okinawa until 29 May, when she was sent to the Philippines.
Randolph then was attached to Admiral William “Bull” Halsey’s famous Third Fleet and her aircraft made a series of strikes against the Japanese home islands. On 10 July 1945, Randolph alone launched eight air strikes against airfields near Tokyo. On 14 July, her aircraft hit the airfields and shipping in and near Tsugaru Strait, in which two important Japanese train ferries were sunk and three were damaged. These aerial attacks against the Japanese home islands continued for several days until Randolph and several other carriers were moved to the southwest of the Japanese home islands. Once there, they began bombing targets on 24 July, hitting airfields and factories on Kyushu, Honshu, and Shikoku. Randolph’s pilots estimated that, from 10 to 25 July 1945, they destroyed 25 to 30 Japanese ships, ranging in size from small coastal transports to a 6,000-ton freighter, and had damaged 35 to 40 others. Randolph’s aircraft continued pounding Japanese ground targets right up until the morning of 15 August, when Japan surrendered.
After the war ended, Randolph was sent back to the United States in September 1945 and, after transiting the Panama Canal, joined the Atlantic Fleet. Over the next several months, Randolph was part of Operation “Magic Carpet” and made two round-trip crossings to the Mediterranean to bring home American servicemen. Randolph also made two trips to Europe while serving as a training ship in 1946 and 1947, but was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in February 1948.
Randolph was one of the carriers selected to undergo SCB-27A modernization and was re-commissioned in July 1953. The changes made to Randolph after the conversion were quite extensive. Her flight deck was reinforced to handle heavier and faster jet aircraft that were entering the Navy. More powerful catapults were installed, new arresting gear was added, and the gun armament was modernized. A distinctive feature was a new “island” structure on the starboard side of the flight deck that was taller in height and shorter in length than the previous structure. Other additions included increased storage for aviation gasoline, more powerful electrical generating capabilities, and better and safer weapons storage facilities. Randolph was now re-classified an attack aircraft carrier and given the new classification CVA-15.
Randolph was assigned to the US Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean in 1954. From 1955 to 1956, Randolph was modernized once again and received an angled flight deck and an enclosed “hurricane” bow. She made three more deployments with the Sixth Fleet from 1956 to 1959, but was then converted to an anti-submarine support carrier in March of 1959 and was re-classified CVS-15. For the next ten years, Randolph participated in anti-submarine exercises in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, and off the coast of northern Europe. Randolph also acted as the support ship for the early Mercury manned space flights and then took a very active part in the naval “quarantine” of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Since the Soviet Union sent submarines to Cuba and Randolph was an anti-submarine warfare carrier, there was a very real possibility that Randolph’s aircraft could have been on the front lines of a naval war between the United States and the Soviet Union. Luckily, it did not come to that.
USS Randolph continued her duties until she was decommissioned for the last time on 13 February 1969 at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. This proud ship was sold for scrapping in May of 1975. Randolph received three battle stars for her service during World War II.
Posted by Remo at 9:46 AM
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Figure 1: USS Charleston (PG-51) under construction at the Charleston Navy Yard, Charleston, South Carolina, circa February 1936. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Charleston (PG-51) at the Panama Canal circa 1938. Photograph courtesy of Darryl Baker. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Charleston (PG-51) circa March 1944, place unknown. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Charleston (PG-51) circa March 1944, place unknown. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: Camouflage Measure 31, Design 3D. Drawing prepared by the Bureau of Ships for a camouflage scheme intended for gunboats of the Erie PG-50 class. This plan, approved by Captain Logan McKee, USN, is dated 25 February 1944. It shows the ship's port side and superstructure ends. USS Charleston (PG-51) wore this camouflage design. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: Camouflage Measure 31, Design 3D. Drawing prepared by the Bureau of Ships for a camouflage scheme intended for gunboats of the Erie PG-50 class. This plan, approved by Captain Logan McKee, USN, is dated 25 February 1944. It shows the ship's starboard side. USS Charleston (PG-51) wore this camouflage design. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Charleston (PG-51) during World War II, date and place unknown. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: Stern view of USS Charleston (PG-51) during World War II, date and place unknown. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 9: United States Training Ship (USTS) Charleston as she appeared at Boston, Massachusetts, in 1951. Courtesy of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 10: USTS Charleston at the Boston Shipyard, Boston, Massachusetts, in the fall of 1955. She is seen here in dry dock just before deploying for a three-month training cruise to the Mediterranean in January 1956. Courtesy of CDR Jack Dowd, USNR, Ret. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 11: Stern view of USTS Charleston at the Boston Shipyard, Boston, Massachusetts, in the fall of 1955. She is seen here in dry dock just before deploying for a three-month training cruise to the Mediterranean in January 1956. Courtesy of CDR Jack Dowd, USNR, Ret. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after the city in South Carolina, USS Charleston (PG-51) was a 2,000-ton Erie class gunboat that was built by the Charleston Navy Yard at Charleston, South Carolina, and was commissioned on 8 July 1936. The Erie class was supposed to be a modern version of the old “Peace Cruisers” of the Denver class, which were used primarily as gunboats in the Caribbean, off South and Central America, and with the Asiatic Fleet. USS Charleston was approximately 328 feet long and 41 feet wide, had a top speed of 20 knots, and had a crew of 236 officers and men. The ship initially was armed with four 6-inch guns, but four 1.1-inch guns, six 20-mm cannons, and two depth-charge tracks were added once the United States entered World War II. Although Charleston was supposed to perform the same duties as a normal fleet cruiser, she was too slow, too small, and too lightly armored to perform that task. She, therefore, was primarily used as a standard gunboat to protect American lives and property in countries around the world.
After her shakedown cruise off the east coast of the United States, Charleston left Norfolk, Virginia, on 24 February 1937, sailed to the Mediterranean and joined Squadron 40T, a task force created to protect American lives and interests in that part of the world during the Spanish Civil War. While with that squadron, Charleston visited ports in Yugoslavia, Italy, and Algeria before returning to the United States on 24 April for an overhaul. On 9 July, the ship left Charleston and headed for Balboa in the Panama Canal Zone. Once there, Charleston became the flagship for the Special Service Squadron and participated in various naval exercises off Panama until 1 March 1938, when she returned to Charleston.
Charleston was assigned to the Caribbean from April to October 1938. From January 1939 to June 1940, the gunboat participated in Army-Navy exercises, conducted patrols off the east coast of the United States, and visited ports in Central America and Mexico. Then on 8 September 1940, Charleston left Norfolk and was sent to Seattle, Washington, where she began her new job as flagship for the Commander of the Alaskan Sector, Thirteenth Naval District. From November 1940 to November 1941, Charleston made five cruises from Seattle to Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.
After the United States entered World War II on 7 December 1941, Charleston was assigned to numerous patrol and convoy escort duties in the Alaska/Aleutian Islands area of operations. Aside from four trips Charleston made to west coast ports for overhauls, the ship was based at either Dutch Harbor or Kodiak in the Aleutians for the rest of the war. Although her primary jobs were patrol and convoy escort duties, Charleston also transported and landed military reconnaissance parties, assisted ships in distress, and participated in the assault on the island of Attu in the Aleutians, which took place on 11 May 1943. Two days later, Charleston’s guns supported US Army troops on Attu by bombarding enemy positions at Chichagof Harbor. The gunboat also screened and protected American transports that were anchored off the island. During a Japanese aerial attack on 22 May, Charleston avoided several torpedoes that were aimed at her and her guns shot down one of the attacking aircraft. Charleston provided gunfire support for Army troops until enemy resistance ended and she assisted in the occupation of the island by escorting convoys between Attu and Adak in the Aleutians. While assigned to the Aleutians campaign, Charleston completed 130 escort missions which included a total of 253 convoyed ships.
By the end of the war, Charleston was overhauled and prepared for duty in the Far East. On 25 November 1945, the ship arrived at Hong Kong. She also made a trip to Shanghai before returning to the United States on 4 March 1946. USS Charleston was decommissioned in San Francisco, California, on 10 May 1946 and transferred to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy on 25 March 1948. She was used as a training ship for the academy until 1959, when she was sold to an Italian investor who planned to convert the ship into a floating nightclub and hotel. The final fate of the ship is unknown.
USS Charleston represented the end of the famous “Gunboat Era,” when relatively large seagoing warships (not small, coastal craft) were built specifically to protect American lives and property during peacetime in distant lands around the world. They were never meant for major fleet actions and usually acted alone, whether off the shores of Mexico, South or Central America, and the Caribbean, or defending American interests in the Far East, especially in the Philippines and China. The Erie class was not that successful and only two ships in this class were built. But gunboats like USS Charleston provided invaluable service to the US Navy over several decades. After World War II, all of the gunboat’s duties were performed by larger fleet units, such as aircraft carriers, battleships, cruisers, destroyers, or even frigates. But the day of the “Peace Cruisers” and gunboats, ships that were specifically designed to defend American lives and property in far-off countries, was over.
Posted by Remo at 8:36 AM